Saying she had helped define Anderson University, school President James L. Edwards presented the 2007 Heritage Award to longtime dean of women, the Rev. Cleda Anderson. “In her role as dean of students,” Edwards said, “Cleda strove to make Anderson University a special place in each student’s life. She took seriously the responsibility of passing along the heritage of the church to the younger generation. She watched with excitement as students began to own their faith and as the lessons of the church became real to them.”
Anderson served as the university’s dean of women from 1967 to 1988. She grew up a few blocks from the school on Walnut Street and attended Park Place Church of God since she was a child.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” Anderson said to the roughly 150 people who attended the Heritage Dinner Sunday evening. “I know in my heart, that every one of you, in one way or another, through this organization, the community or the college, is involved in this institution’s heritage.”
Since 1994, Anderson University has given the Heritage Award “to honor persons whose contributions of friendship, service and resources have greatly advanced” the school’s mission, according to information from the university. “This annual award recognizes the meaningful impact that has been made by the community and church leaders.”
Past Heritage award winners include Robert and Geraldine Reardon, Carl and Betty Erskine and Bill and Gloria Gaither.
“Heritage ... has really made the difference to me at Anderson University,” Anderson said. “I can’t tell you how much I valued my years here.”
Anderson entered the university as a freshman in 1944, took all the available psychology classes then-offered and transferred to the University of Iowa to earn her bachelor’s degree.
In the ensuing years, she married Joe Anderson and had three children. She eventually became youth pastor at Park Place, and when the church started a nursery school, she became one of its teachers.
Anderson became Anderson University’s dean of women in 1967 after being offered the position by Robert Reardon. She retired in 1988 as the school’s vice president of student affairs. Anderson retired to Florida, and was a counselor and associate pastor for the Longboat Island Chapel. Twice, she served as the chapel’s senior pastor.
“For Cleda, her experience at Longboat Island Chapel was a beautiful ending to her ministry,” Edwards said. “As she looks over her career, she believes nobody could have been more blessed in life. She credits those people who recognized her potential and then helped her live up to it.”
Along with earning a bachelor’s degree, Anderson earned a master’s degree from Ball State University and an honorary doctorate from Azusa Pacific University.
“Heritage, of course has something to do with making a commitment and changing one’s life,” Anderson said. “Heritage, for me, heritage is the future.”
Previous Heritage Award winners:
Dorothy Blevins Dicus (1994)
Lester and Marguerite Hardacre (1994)
H. Wilbur and Martha Hardacre (1994)
Mona Marjorie Hoffman (1994)
Helen Canaday (1995)
E.E. Kardatzke (1995)
Naomi Bennett (1996)
R. Glenn and Ruth Falls (1996)
Robert L. and Charlotte Austin (1997)
Philip and Lucille Cooper (1997)
Wilbur L. and Eileen M. Schield (1997)
Linfield Myers (1998)
J.T. Wilson (1998)
Thomas and Tay McMahan (1999)
Robert and Geraldine Reardon (1999)
Carl and Betty Erskine (2000)
Bill and Gloria Gaither (2000)
Robert and Dorothy Nicholson (2001)
Wilbur and Lillian Roby (2001)
T. Franklin and Gertie Miller (2002)
C.E. and Carrie Brown family (2002)
James Earl and Gwendolyn Massey (2003)
William and Ann Hardacre (2003)
Dale and Linda Bengston (2004)
Ronald J. and E. Joyce Fowler (2005)
R. Eugene Sterner (2006)
— Shawn McGrath is a reporter with The Herald Bulletin in Anderson. Story and photo repirinted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.